Home

Using Multiprocessing in Industrial Automation Systems

Automated industrial control systems are an integral part of today’s manufacturing facilities. As these systems’ capabilities advance, the engineer shifts from someone who oversees processes to one who manages the data produced and functions performed by these systems to ensure product quality. Manufacturing systems need to be reliable, since downtime is an expensive alternative. Automation has reduced the number of people staffed at each facility so, if a system goes down, it’s probably not feasible for people to actually step in and move production along. If a system stops, so does production.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Computer software / hardware, Systems engineering, Automation, Manufacturing equipment and machinery, Productivity, Reliability
Read More >>

Using FPGAs for Automated Design Validation

In the design process, after the first prototype returns from fabrication, engineers often use traditional test equipment to make low-level measurements such as digital rise times, voltage thresholds, and leakage currents, and analog harmonic and spurious distortion, noise, and more. Once these parameters are verified to be within specification, higher-level attributes such as protocol compliance on digital devices and modulation parameters on communications devices are then checked. This gives the engineer a good understanding of how the device behaves, and whether or not that behavior allows the device to properly interact with the world around it. However, how can you guarantee that the device will continue to operate over time, with the myriad of permutations of device state, data content, and in the presence of non-ideal, real-world conditions? Who has the time to run all those tests?

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Integrated circuits, Automation, Quality assurance, Test equipment and instrumentation, Test procedures
Read More >>

Implementing Rack-Level I/O Consolidation

The desire to consolidate datacenter I/O has existed for several decades. It has been driven by I/O hardware providers who didn’t want to develop multiple versions of the same I/O card for different computer busses, and by end-users who did not want to stock multiple cards, as well as manage different fabrics with different tools. The problems that I/O consolidation needs to solve are:

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Embedded Technology, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Communication protocols, Computer software / hardware
Read More >>

RF Antenna Switches

California Eastern Laboratories (Santa Clara, CA) offers two RF antenna switches based on the same chip die: the uPG2413T6M and the uPG2413T6Z. The small, single pole triple throw, SP3T switches, designed by Renesas Electronics Corporation, feature low insertion loss of 0.35 dB at 1GHz and 0.50 dB at 2.5GHz. The design allows the switches to support Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices in the same module. The T6Z measures 1.5 × 1.5 mm; the T6M switch measures 2.0 × 2.0 mm and is compatible to a prior generation’s switching, allowing for easier transition.

Posted in: Products, RFM Catchall
Read More >>

RF/IF Digitizer

ZTEC Instruments (Albuquerque, NM) and Astronics DME Corp. (East Aurora, NY) have developed the ZR8441 RF/IF digitizer. The digitizer comes standard with a full-featured, on-instrument spectrum analyzer. Technical specifications include real-time quadrature digital down conversion (DDC) with fractional resampling and decimation; vector signal analysis capability of 156.26 MHz instantaneous bandwidth; low noise floor and high dynamic range; all-digital frequency hopping; and real-time FPGA processing. To ease the transition from a bench-top spectrum analyzer to its modular instrument counterpart, the ZT8441 integrates with a familiar interface. Its modular architecture also provides interoperability with third-party RF modules, like RF down converters; the product offers bus master control of those RF instruments.

Posted in: Products, RFM Catchall
Read More >>

Dipole Antennas

Antenna Factor (Merlin, OR) has announced 2.4 GHz models of its HW and HWR Series antennas. While the HW has a fixed base, the HWR option features an articulating base that allows the antenna to tilt 90° and rotate 360°. Both of the 1⁄2-wave, center-fed dipole antennas feature an internal counterpoise that eliminates external ground plane dependence to improve performance. The HW and HWR Series antennas attach via a standard SMA or Part 15-compliant RP-SMA connector. Custom colors and connectors are also available for volume OEM customers.

Posted in: Products, RFM Catchall
Read More >>

Tracking Application

MobileRecon from Navagis (Jackson, MS) is a mobile device application that brings video, audio, and other data onto a Google Earth Enterprise (GEE) globe from the field. User-generated maps and live asset tracking can be displayed on the server and the device simultaneously with Google Maps. All data collected in the field is automatically time-stamped; geo-located through cellular, Wi-Fi, GPS, or a combination; and can be annotated. The application operates in disaster areas and rural areas without network connectivity, and automatically syncs data to the GEE globe as network access becomes available. The user interface can be used for a variety of tasks, including command and control, situational awareness, and reconnaissance. Users are able to edit, analyze, and review collected data post-mission.

Posted in: Products
Read More >>

Advances in High-Frequency PCB Materials

Traditionally, RF/microwave printed circuit board applications were developed based on the needs that came out of the military market. Applications like radar and guidance systems were operating at frequencies where traditional printed circuit board (PCB) materials like epoxy/woven glass did not have the properties — mainly tight dielectric constant control and low dielectric loss — that allowed them to be used at frequencies in the +1GHz range. Instead of PCBs, designers had to use waveguide structures as the first RF/microwave circuits; however, this meant bulky and

heavy solutions.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Integrated circuits, Navigation and guidance systems, Radar, Glass, Materials properties, Resins
Read More >>

Passive Devices Designed to Improve Signal-to-Noise Ratios in Defense Electronics

While power architectures of defense electronics are extremely diverse, all have common operational demands: they must be robust (shock, vibration, temperature extremes), highly reliable, able to power-up after periods of dormancy, and be based on components with minimal obsolescence. Design engineers can improve their power distribution quality over a wide spectrum of signal types from digital to RF power, while meeting the above application requirements, through the implementation of various passive components designed specifically to enhance performance and improve signal-to-noise ratios. In this article we will talk about low-inductance, low-ESR power filter capacitors; wet tantalum capacitors; RF/microwave directional couplers; and land grid array inductors and filters.

Posted in: Articles, RFM Catchall, Aerospace, Optimization, Capacitors, Power electronics, Defense industry
Read More >>

Reliable EMI Shielding Materials and RF Cable Assemblies Ensure High Performance for Handheld Test Instruments

While high-performance test equipment has been used successfully in the laboratory for many years, the trend is moving toward remote testing, which means smaller, lightweight equipment that can be taken into the field. It is crucial that field equipment delivers results with the same quality as those generated in the laboratory environment. Therefore, signal integrity, durability, and long-term reliability of the instrument and its accessories are key factors in ensuring consistent, accurate, and repeatable measurements. Whether you are an instrument designer or a field engineer, you need to consider two components that can directly affect the overall performance of handheld instruments — EMI shielding and long-term cable reliability.

Posted in: Articles, RFM Catchall, Aerospace, Downsizing, Electromagnetic compatibility, Electronic equipment, Lightweighting
Read More >>